Researchers Identify two Novel Gene Variations Linked to Asthma
Helsinki - Two newly discovered diagnostic gene variations are involved in asthma pathogenesis and may be promising new targets for drug development, according to researchers from Finnish biotech company GeneOS Ltd. (Science 304 (5668): 300-4). Patients that carry SNPs in the G protein-coupled receptor GPRA and the AAA1 protein showed a 2.5-fold higher risk to develop the disease. In animals and asthma patients the researchers found that GRPA is overexpressed, whether they carried the gene variation or not. Whilst the function of AAA1 remains unclear the company has already filed a patent on GPRA.
To identify the new asthma markers the research group around GeneOS founder Professor Juha Kere from the University of Helsinki used a hierarchical genotyping design. Examining 900 asthma patients from Finnish and Canadian populations the researchers identified a 133kb risk-conferring segment on chromosome 7p that contained the two genes.
The data implies that the orphan GPRA is involved in the pathogenesis of atopy and asthma and may have application in other inflammatory diseases.
“The importance of this discovery is that these findings validate our approach of being able to build relevant patient databases and use this information to understand disease outcome”, said Tarja Laitinen, Chief Scientific Officer, GeneOS.
The number of asthmatics has been growing at about 10% per year; currently asthma affects approximately 6 to 10% of the population in the United States and Western Europe.